Fashion Student Profile: Charles Chambers

Charles Chambers / BA Fashion Design at UEL / Year 4

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The University of East London has a lot of amazing talents in the area of fashion design. This is a series where we showcase UEL’s talent through interviews and take a sneak preview of their work.

What is the inspiration behind your collection?

“I came up with this collection from a cycling. I do a lot of track cycling and for this collection I wanted to design something where you can cycle in it, it looks ergonomic, it fits and it looks good. I love cycling and that’s one of my main driving points”.

What made you decide to study fashion?

“Because I like pretty things. I have always loved making my own clothes and the idea of construction. I work on a lot of making latex outfits. So lots of stuff for show pieces, music videos and a very kind of couture experimental madness. I’ve always enjoyed doing that: I used to make outfits myself, go into clubs and people would ask ‘ where did you get that from?’ and explain that I made it myself and from there it just progressed. From that I thought I should just sack the day job and do a course in this. So this is what lead me to this point”.

What fashion designers inspire you to do fashion?

“There have been a lot of people that have been influential to me like Robin Archer, House of Harlot is just absolutely amazing. He is just an inspiration, he knows everything and he just creates things so so well. As main stream designers go, I adore Vivienne Westwood, I just love her, I think she is brilliant but she’s kind of anti-design something. That I really enjoy. Iris Van Herpen is stunning, she is very textural and makes beautiful things and Gareth Pugh is also very good”.

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Out of all your pieces of work what has been your favorite piece?

“I would probably say my favorite piece that I have ever done would be this kind of breathing, pulsating latex dress. It was based on subtraction cutting and it was all to do with surface and texture and so I wanted to keep both really minimal and just have it all in a 3d form: it kind of deflated and inflated. I’m doing another exhibition at the moment with a load of my other stuff where I’m showcasing more interesting stuff whereas my cycle collection is more tame. The exhibition is based on womens wear, which a lot of fun”.

How long would it take to come up with a piece, like the ones in your cycle collection?

“Well, it’s a difficult one because it depends on the piece. For more ‘out there’ pieces like my latex inflatable dress took nearly 2 months to make. I’ve done a full world war two military outfit out of latex and that took me 2 to 3 months to make, I mean the detail in that was just annoying. It was all applique, were you have to cut it out into each individual shape and stick it on and layer it on again. So making a long dress out of that was quite full on. I was doing a performance actually for one of my friends who is a theatre producer and for Jordan who was up in the 2009 Eurovision entry; she was a little bit pregnant in a pink latex cat suit which I worked on and for that I made a parody of it. I made myself a similar outfit that had a pregnant bump that gave way to a small inflatable fetus and my breasts lactated vodka and milk, which was quite fun to make and quite fun to perform in. The only problem never underestimate the weight breasts this large full of alcohol. It was quite interesting”.

So other than your designs and pieces how are you going to prepare for Graduate Fashion Week?

“Well luckily with this I have been working very closely with another company who are looking to go into production for this whole cycle collection. So as far as that I’ve been mostly focusing with them trying to work on what they want as a collection. So as preparation goes it’s just me being a nervous wreck and not sleeping but apart from that I’m quite happy with how it is going. Working with these creative people gives me an insight into the industry and it’s giving me drive. Being good or bad for final year, I guess time will tell and it’s been an interesting show. Hopefully when we get show done it just then gives me the freedom to focus on my more interesting designs and because this is commercial; commercial sells. Which is the kind of decision I have to make as a designer. Its either something I feel like making or making something that is easy to sell and easy to market but then allows me to fund my mad artistry. So we will see which one pays off”.

Watch out for Charles Chames at Graduate Fashion Week. Theses are example of his cycle collection!

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Quite a bit of detail goes into a piece like this and Charles explained to me that to achieve his goal of a cycle collection he wanted to incorporate the materials cyclist would use. So my camera with the flash on really showed its reflective quality such as the retro reflective materials like 3M’s Scotchlite. He then went on to use the same reflective material within the stitching of the cross hatch design on the trousers.

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